PWD pushing ahead to finish work before next irrigation season

With the ground water table depleting rapidly in view of the drought like conditions, Tiruchi Corporation has just begun to dig additional borewells on the river bed. Next summer, it will most likely be spared of the trouble. Just a few metres downstream the place where the borewells are being dug up, men and machines are working at a feverish pace building a check dam that is expected to put an end to the worries of the city water managers caused by the drying of the borewells.

The city’s water sources on the river bed are mostly likely to be surrounded by water retained by the check dam once water is released from Mettur reservoir for the next irrigation season.

Though it dealt a blow to the farmers in the delta, the early end to the irrigation season last year owing to insufficient storage at Mettur dam provided an extended window to the public works authority to expedite the construction of the check dam near Kambarasampettai, just a few metres away from the city’s main water sources.

Work has been in full swing since December after the water dried up in the river. Although the work is scheduled for completion only in February next year, as per the contract, nearly 75 per cent of the work has already been completed.

PWD sources told The Hindu that they were hoping to complete all the works on the river bed by the end of June, before release of water from Mettur the next irrigation season, barring unusual heavy rain during the summer. “We are working towards completing 95 per cent of the project works by the end of June. Effectively, all works on check dam structure on the river bed will have been completed by then, though strengthening of the river bunds on both sides will take a couple of more months,” said a PWD officer.

The check dam was sanctioned at a cost of Rs.32 crore following a public outcry over the heavy exploitation of the river bed for a slew of drinking water schemes catering to the needs of various cities and towns as far as Ramanathapuram. Farmers of the region have been left worried over the drastic fall in water table during the summer months.

The structure will run for a length of 550 metres and stand about 1.5 metres in height from the bed level. It will head up water for a stretch of 1.50 km upstream and provide a continuous wetting of the river bed so as to keep the drinking water collector wells sufficiently recharged, especially in the summer. The check dam will also help recharge ground water table for a radius of about four to five km. Construction of the apron, the cut-off and toe walls has been completed. The body and retaining walls are being built currently. Once this is completed, six sand vents will be built.